Paediatrics => Croup
Croup, disease of the respiratory tract characterized by a harsh, barking cough and difficulty in breathing. Recurrent croup may be due to allergy; usually each episode clears spontaneously. Croup with sudden onset may be due to infection of the epiglottis by bacteria. This condition, called epiglottitis, can result in complete blockage of the airway and must be treated by a doctor. Treatment involves the use of an antibiotic to combat the infection, and passage of a tube into the airway to maintain breathing. In emergencies an opening may be cut into the trachea through the skin (tracheotomy). Epiglottitis occurs most often in children aged three to six years. Croup may also be caused by viral infection of the lower part of the trachea. This illness is often preceded by signs of respiratory infection and generally occurs between the ages of six months and three years. Viral croup will usually respond to inhalation of warm, moist air. A croup-like cough may also signal the presence of a foreign body in the airway.